Saturday, September 3, 2011

Aplomado Falcon

Today some photos of a juvenile Aplomado Falcon, which I took in the dunes near Playa Juan Angel in central Veracruz. This charismatic species, once rare and endangered, is making a healthy comeback, and can now be found throughout the coastal plain of Veracruz.  We sometimes see this species from either of the two Pronatura count sites, and it is virtually a guaranteed sighting when birding anywhere in the coastal dunes.

They're about the size of a Peregrine, but are easily told from that species, even at some distance, by their much longer tail. Closer views reveal pronounced plumage differences such as a whitish eyebrow, a black hour-glass shaped belly patch, orange leg feathering, dark underwing, pale trailing edge of wings etc.

Juveniles, like this individual, show a heavily streaked breast. The breast is unstreaked in adult males, and with only a hint of streaking in adult females.

The leg feathering is pale orange on juveniles, darker orange on adults. There's also a difference in the color of the eye ring and cere: blue on juveniles, yellow on adults (like in Prairie Falcon).

A social raptor, they are often found in loose family groups.

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